Pulse Sports historian, Thomas Freeman Yeboah takes you through the history and achievements of Asante Kotoko, as they celebrate their 82nd birthday on Wednesday.
Asante Kotoko Sporting Club, also known as Asante Kotoko or Ashanti Kotoko, is a professional football club from Kumasi, Ashanti. Based at Kumasi Sports Stadium they are competing in the Ghana Premier League. They have been champions of the Ghana league a record 23 times and have won the CAF Champions League twice.
The International Federation of Football History and Statistics (IFFHS) ranked Asante Kotoko the African club of the 20th century.
The foundation for what can safely be described as Ghana's best football club in terms of achievements both at home and abroad was laid by 13 young men led by a young driver, Kwasi Kuma ably assisted by his close friend Lawrence Yaw Asamoah, an electrician.
Kwasi Kuma from Nyankyerase near Kwadaso, a Kumasi suburb, was a driver in the colonial days to a Col. Ross an English Amy officer in the Gold Coast Army. In early 1924 Kwasi had watched an exciting football match in Accra between Accra Standfast and Accra Hearts of Oak and was really thrilled. He developed so much interest in football that he nursed an ambition to form a club of his own in the future. Hearts won the said match 2-1 and Sir Gordon Guggisberg, Governor of the Gold Coast presented a set of jerseys to Hearts for their good performance.
When Col. Ross returned to Britain for good towards the end of 1924, Kuma also had to return home to Kumasi where he decided to pursue his ambition of forming a club of his own. Indeed he had bought a set of jerseys from Accra for the purpose. With co-operation of his close friend, Lawrence Yaw Asamoah, he formed Kumasi Rainbow towards the end of the year 1924.
Two years later the name was changed to Ashanti United after the leaders had succeeded in recruiting a number of young promising students from ECM (Anglican) and AME Zion and Government School all in Kumasi. The two gentlemen tried to promote the game in Ashanti and within five years Ashanti could boast of strong teams like Evertons, Royals, Never Miss, Europeans, Primrose and Highlanders.
In 1931 it was decided once more to change the name of Ashanti United to Kumasi Titanics. This was the time the club had been really handicapped because most of their players in government departments like the Prisons and Railways had gone on transfer from Kumasi.
The story goes that Titanics did not find enough luck in their new name and in 1934 they adopted a more powerful name- Mighty Atoms. Still the club did not see enough progress and in 1935 Mr. James Frimpong, popularly called Teacher Frimpong, a teacher at the Kumasi Government School, now Asem Boys School, organized some young energetic boys from his school and suggested a change of name from Atoms to Asante Kotoko. This was after he had obtained special permission from the Asantehene Nana Sir Osei Agyeman Prempeh II.
The club was officially inaugurated on August 31, 1935 before a great assembly of chiefs and people from all walks of life. The Asantehene was represented by the Atipinhene of Kumasi, Nana Boakye Yamoa.
The Asantehene and the Atipinhene were elected patrons and the first elected officers were James Darkwa- President, John Darkwa- Treasurer, John Osei- Secretary, Kwame Frimpong and Kwasi Oppong- Trainers.
Some memorable feat chalked by Kotoko
The Porcupine Warriors have played in 7 Africa Champions Cup/CAF Champions League grand finale, winning 2 of them. The first of these two victories came in 1970 when they stormed DR. Congo, then Zaire to beat them by 2 goals to one infront of their vociferous supporters, after the first leg in in Kumasi had ended one all. The hero of the day was the late Robert Mensah, who made some wonderful saves to deny the Congolese the trophy. The two goal scorers for Kotoko were Abuakari Gariba and Malik Jabir.
Starting line -up: Robert Mensah, Ben Kusi, Oliver Acquah, Clifford Odame, Ohene Brenya, Ibrahim Sunday, Sule musah, Yaw Sam, Abukari Gariba, Malik Jabir and Osumanu Orlando.
Players who stayed on the bench of Kotoko were: Essel Mensah, Osei Kofi, Albert Essuman (Baby Pele), Atia Musah, Bobie Ansah, Dogo Moro, (player cum team manager)
Technical team: Edward Aggrey Fyn (coach), Ben Couffie (Assistant), Dogo Moro (Team Manager)
N/B: It should be recalled that although, the final was played in January 1971, it was 1970 championship. Therefore Asante Kotoko in the record books is the champion of 1970 Champions Cup and Canon Yaounde as the 1971 champion.
Twelve years later in Kumasi, skipper Papa Arko and his colleagues comprising Joe Carr, Ernest Appau, Kwasi Appiah, Seth Ampadu, Addai Kyenkyehene, John Bannerman, Yahaya Kassum, Ebo Mends/Agyeman, Opoku Nti, Afranie/Joe Tex also hoisted high the flag of Kotoko and Ghana in general when they beat Nadi El Ahly of Egypt 1-0 to lift the coveted Africa Cup of Champion Clubs for the second time. Both teams shared spoils in the first leg in Cairo but Kotoko fought doggedly to beat Ahly 1-0 in Kumasi. The all-important goal was created by skillful John Bannerman and slotted home by Opoku Nti - now General Manager of the club. It was obviously a great revenge of the 1982 loss to the same side in Africa and no wonder the victory sent Kumasi and its environs agog for days.
The Porcupines have also had a successful run in the FA Cup which remains another top-flight competition. Per records, Kotoko have been to the final of FA Cup 13 times - their highest ever in all competitions since 1935. They have been victorious eight times in 1958, 1960/61, 1976, 1978, 1984, 1998, 2001 and 2014 and runners five times in 1961/62, 1985, 2011 and 2013. It is another great feat which needs recognition as we look at what Kotoko have achieved in their 80 years anniversary.
Asante Kotoko are the most successful club in the history of the Sports Writers Association of Ghana (SWAG) Cup, having won it 12 times and have also won annual Republic Day Cup 3 times, GHALCA Top Four Cup twice, Ghana Telecom Gala on three occasion, President's Cup three times, Guinness Gala and a host of other trophies.
In 2009, Kotoko found itself in glamorous company when named as one of the IFFHS' (International Federation of Football History and Statistics) 'Continental Clubs of the 20th Century', a podium the club shared with, among others, prestigious Real Madrid (Europe) and Penarol (South America). No bigger honour could there be, one would logically think.
Summary of trophy haul
Ghana Premier League: 23 (Record holder)
1959, 1963-64, 1964-65, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1972, 1975, 1980, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1986, 1987, 1988-89, 1990-91, 1991-92, 1992-93, 2003, 2005, 2007-08, 2011-12, 2012-13, 2013-14 (Record Holder).
FA Cup: 8
1958, 1959, 1960, 1978, 1984, 1997-98, 2001, 2014 (2nd Most Successful Club).
Ghana Super Cup: 2
2012, 2013 (Most Successful Club).
Other GFA National Titles
Ghana SWAG Cup: 12 (Record holder)
1981, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1998, 2001, 2003, 2005, 2008 (Record Holder).
Ghana Telecom Gala: 3
1999-00, 2001, 2005 (Record Holder).
GHALCA Top Four/Top Four Cup: 3
2003, 2007 and 2016 (Record Holder).
Ghana Annual Republic Day Cup: 3
2004, 2005, 2008 (Record Holder).
African Cup of Champions Clubs & CAF Champions League: 2 (7th Most Successful Club)
Champion - 1970, 1983,
Runners-up - 1967, 1971, 1973, 1982, 1993
African Cup Winners Cup: 0
Runners-up - 2002
CAF Confederation Cup: 0 (10th Most Successful Club)
Runners-up - 2004